Discrepancies on a three-page spreadsheet might be the key to the FBI probe of Jane Sanders. It was possibly used to help secure the loan to purchase a $10 million lakefront parcel while Jane O’Meara Sanders was president of Burlington College.
Many simply believe she was just an incompetent college president. Maybe she was using common core math.
The spreadsheet is a list of allegedly confirmed and potential donors to the college’s 2010 capital campaign using each donor’s initials.
At least four of the donors included on the spreadsheet, however, have challenged the listed amount of their donations. Some said the donations were exaggerated and others didn’t remember making them.
The questionable list is why Mrs. Sanders was fired, according to one former trustee, David V. Dunn.
“There were three issues that the board made the decision to remove her,” Dunn said. “One decision was the financial information and the questionable donations, the second was a student incident, and the third was a crisis of confidence in her leadership as expressed by the faculty.”
Another trustee Jonathan Leopold, denied Dunn’s claims and said they never doubted the pledges but were concerned that future fundraising efforts were stalled. Leopold and another trustee Claire Elliott said they no longer had confidence in her leadership and were not prepared to continue working with her.
Elliott also said the investigation is “absurd”and there is “no malfeasance”. “It was an ambitious leap of faith” that didn’t work out.
Rob Michalak, another trustee, was also not concerned about the validity of the pledges.
Three of the trustees have questioned the accuracy of the pledges next to their names, including Mr. Dunn though he’s going by the initials ‘DD’ listed on the spreadsheet.
Joel Miller, who served as trustee for 12 years, argued against the purchase and recommended renting. “Using hope as a strategy, it was a little crazy,” Miller said. Yet, he approved it.
The sum of the confirmed pledges on the original spreadsheet was $2.67 million. The total amount of potential donations, including unconfirmed pledges, was $5.16 million.
Because of the debt and the unfulfilled pledges, the college was forced to close last year. The sale of their assets has not covered their debts though the final recompense has not yet been released.